Book Promo: Great Legal Writing: Lessons from Literature

Great Legal Writing: Lessons from Literature is the latest title by High Court judge Dr Max Barrett (pictured), whose previous book The Art and Craft of Judgment Writing was a finalist in the Irish Legal Book of the Year Award.

In it, Dr Barrett looks at the lessons on writing that can be gleaned from leading writers of the past, including: Joseph Conrad, Guy de Maupassant, EM Forster, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, DH Lawrence, Robert Louis Stevenson and Virginia Woolf.

He considers how their insights can be brought to bear in crafting more polished legal texts.

Writing legal prose well

He argues that legal prose is often a more pedestrian venture than a novel or a poem. However, even the pedestrian can be done well.

He says that the views of the professional writers considered in his book show how lawyers can write legal prose well – and sometimes even beautifully.

Central themes identified by Dr Barrett are:

  • Legal writing should never be too difficult to understand,
  • Great writers have much to teach the legal writer,
  • Good writing requires hard work,
  • Professional jargon is generally best avoided, and
  • The truth is always pure, often simple, and generally best expressed in plain English.

Engaging tour

This book will help guide anyone involved in legal writing to hone their writing skills, while providing an engaging tour through the works of great authors from the past.

Bryan A Garner (chief editor, Black’s Law Dictionary) comments: “In this highly original book, Justice Barrett has drawn together an astonishing amount of material. This is an important contribution to the field of law and literature.”

All after-tax author royalties from the book will be donated to the Ukrainian relief efforts of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement.

Published by Globe Law and Business, Great Legal Writing: Lessons from Literature is available in hardback (294 pages), and retails at Stg £75 (discounted price £56.25).

Copies can be ordered online at and should be available in all good legal bookshops soon.